First Listen: Romantica, 'Shadowlands'


'Shadowlands' album art (Courtesy of the artist)
Romantica - Let the Light Go Through You
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| 00:04:37
  • Romantica - Let the Light Go Through You 04:37
  • Romantica - Harder to Hear 04:18
  • Romantica - Give Your Heart a Shelter 04:40
  • Romantica - Cecil Ingram Conor 03:14
  • Romantica - Lonely Star 03:16
  • Romantica - After the War 03:41
  • Romantica - Here It Comes 05:53
  • Romantica - Buffalo Bill 04:29
  • Romantica - We Were Young 03:35
  • Romantica - Blue Heart 03:10
  • Romantica - Nobody Knows 04:53
  • Romantica - St. Paul City Lights 04:18
  • Romantica - Get Back in Love 05:05
  • Romantica - Shandy Bass 03:46

After an extended hiatus, Twin-Cities-based Americana ensemble Romantica are releasing their fourth and long-anticipated album, Shadowlands. The pensive and melodic album is set to be released on Friday, Feb. 10. Romantica will also be performing an album release party this Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Fitzgerald Theater.

Romantica were formed in 2002 by Ben Kyle, an Irish-born musician and longtime Minnesota resident. The music that Romantica create is hard to categorize — with elements of Americana, folk, rock, and a bit of country twang. The band's first album, It's Your Weakness That I Want, earned them the Minnesota Music Academy Award for Best Folk/Roots/Americana Recording in 2004. In 2007 the band put out America, which was included in Paste Magazine's Top 100 Albums of 2007 list. Even Control Alt-Country Delete, their low-budget release from 2009, which was recorded in just one day, has become a fan favorite.

Work on the fourth album began back in 2008, but the progress of the album was soon sidetracked. Many of the band members had growing families — there are now 13 children total among the members, five of which are Kyle's. There were also some unforeseen obstacles that prolonged the creation of the album, one of these being a legal battle the band faced with their former record label. Kyle also faced a personal battle: a mysterious illness that was later discovered to be the effects of hidden mold in his home.

While many bands might not be able to come back after all these years and life-altering experiences, Romantica have and they've channeled these experiences into their music. Songs like "Give Your Heart a Shelter" and "Let the Light Go Through You" are introspectively dreamy, as well as hopeful. Shadowlands illustrates not only the evolution of Romantica as a band, but the personal growth of its members as well.

Lillian Speakman is a junior at Hamline University and a DJ for HU Radio.

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